O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers
Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks
Setting a NASCAR DFS lineup at DraftKings is never easy, but Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is shaping up to be an exceptionally tight race.
The track's repaved, reconfigured surface has been giving drivers fits all weekend, and if that wasn't enough, several big names are starting deep in the field after missing qualifying because of issues with tech inspection.
Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all starting outside the Top 30, creating an unusually high number of potential points in the place differential category.
However, the race is still a 334-lap event, so there is also plenty of points in the dominator categories. Finding the balance between the two will be the difference between a big payday and coming up empty.
Things are a little simpler in cash games where loading up on the drivers starting in the back is the safest and smartest strategy. Things get a little trickier when you deal with GPPs, and I recommend trying to pinpoint one driver starting up front who is going to win the dominator categories with a bunch of drivers starting in the back.
I just don't think you can afford to take a chance on two drivers starting toward the front when there are so many drivers starting in the back who have a great chance to finish in the Top 10. Yes, guys like Larson, Busch, and Elliott are going to be popular plays, but popular plays can also be the right plays. Don't be afraid to mix in chalk options, even in big tournaments.
Get ready for a wild race at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, and check out my top cash and GPP plays before finalizing your lineups.
Top Cash Game Plays
Kyle Larson ($10,300)
He starts back in 32nd, but I don't expect Larson to stay there long. He has been a Top 5 driver all season, and he showed Top 5 speed in practice Saturday. Look for Larson to be one of the biggest movers this weekend, and he has an incredibly high floor thanks to his potential in the place differential category.
Kevin Harvick ($10,000)
If you are looking for the traditional play to win the dominator categories, I think Harvick is the pick. He starts on the pole, and the last time he led the field to the green this year, he led almost every lap at Atlanta. I expect track position and clean air to mean a lot on the new pavement at Texas, and Harvick should jump out front early and could stay there most of the afternoon.
Kyle Busch ($9,900)
It has been a wild weekend for Busch, but even after missing qualifying and crashing in the first practice, he looks like one of the best plays. He starts 34th, but his practice times Saturday and career numbers at Texas suggest a Top 5 finish is on tap. Busch should quickly gain 20-plus spots and finish among the top scorers at DraftKings.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,700)
He is off to a slow start in 2017, but Johnson is a six-time winner at Texas, and he topped the charts in final practice. Starting 24th, Johnson has enough upside through place differential to provide a big score even if he doesn't do anything in the dominator categories. His ceiling only goes up from there.
Chase Elliott ($9,500)
Like Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch, Elliott is starting outside the Top 30 with a car that showed Top 5 muscle in practice. The super sophomore cracked the Top 5 in both of his starts at Texas a year ago, and he could make it three in a row Sunday while posting one of the biggest point totals.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,500)
Junior has been struggling this year, but you won't find many mid-priced drivers with this much upside very often. He has to start 37th, but he has four straight finishes of sixth or better at Texas. Even if just sneaks into the Top 20, Junior is going to deliver a solid return on investment.
Erik Jones ($7,600)
Jones is shaping up to be one of the top bargains this weekend. He will start 36th, but he has shown Top 15 speed all weekend, and he finished 12th in his only other Cup start at Texas. If he comes anywhere close to the Top 15 Sunday, Jones will be an absolute steal.
Kasey Kahne ($7,300)
It's been a rough weekend for Kahne, but I'm not worried about him starting in the rear in a backup car. He was already starting 35th, so his value was already coming from the place differential category. Kahne only needs to crack the Top 20 to post a useful point total, and his value just goes up from there. His cap-friendly price tag is the icing on the cake.
Chris Buescher ($6,000)
There aren't many attractive punt plays this weekend, and Buescher is the cheapest driver available with a realistic chance of providing a solid point total. He starts way back in 38th, so a Top 25 finish is all it will take for him to top 25 fantasy points at DraftKings.
Top Tournament Plays
Brad Keselowski ($10,500)
He has been a factor for the win in almost every race this season, and Keselowski has also been one of the steadiest performers at Texas. His practice times suggest that the new surface isn't going to slow him down much, and starting in the Top 5, he is in prime position to get out front and own the dominator categories. Kevin Harvick is my favorite play among drivers starting up front, but Keselowski is probably the best alternative.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200)
If Truex has shown us anything the last two seasons, it is that he is always capable of leading a lot of laps at the larger ovals. He led over 200 laps combined in the two races at Texas last year, and while the track has been repaved, he is still one of the best bets to win the dominator categories. If you are fading Kevin Harvick, Truex joins Brad Keselowski as one of my favorite alternatives.
Ryan Blaney ($8,100)
Blaney starts on the front row Sunday, and he showed plenty of muscle in practice Saturday. If he ends up leading a chunk of the race, he could be the key piece to a winning lineup. I like the idea of surrounding Blaney with five of the bigger names starting in the back because of the qualifying fiasco.
Austin Dillon ($7,500)
Dillon is probably going to be overlooked with guys like Erik Jones and Kasey Kahne starting outside the Top 30, but he starts 25th in his own right, so it's not like he doesn't have some upside through place differential. Plus, Dillon has shown Top 10 potential at 1.5-mile tracks for over a year now. Dial him up as a contrarian play in a few lineups.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,700)
If you are looking for a potential lottery ticket this weekend, consider taking a flier on Allmendinger. He starts 16th, so he doesn't have the type of upside through place differential that will make him highly owned. However, he cracked the top 10 in both practice sessions, and if can back up that speed in the race, he is going to be a major difference maker.
Drivers to Fade
Clint Bowyer ($8,800)
Bowyer has been running well all year, but he could have a tough time living up to this price tag after his third-place effort in qualifying. His practice times have been reliable, but they didn't suggest he can be a factor for the win. I doubt Bowyer is going to do much in the dominator categories, and the smart money is on him losing a few spots and losing points in the place differential category. His price tag and starting spot are working against him.
Michael McDowell, Landon Cassill, David Ragan and Ty Dillon
All four of these drivers are priced at $6,600 or less, but because so many drivers didn't make qualifying runs, they aren't starting deeper in the field like they normally would. In fact, all four start 21st or better, and McDowell, Dillon, and Cassill all start in the Top 15. Instead of having the ability to boost their score through place differential, they are likely going to lose points, potentially a lot of points. Punt plays are few and far between this weekend, and these four drivers, in particular, could do a lot more harm than good.
My Favorite DraftKings Cash Game Lineup
- Kyle Busch ($9,900)
- Jimmie Johnson ($9,700)
- Chase Elliott ($9,500)
- Erik Jones ($7,600)
- Kasey Kahne ($7,300)
- Chris Buescher ($6,000)
Checkers-or-Wreckers GPP Lineup
- Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200)
- Kyle Busch ($9,900)
- Ryan Blaney ($8,100)
- Erik Jones ($7,600)
- Kasey Kahne ($7,300)
- A.J. Allmendinger ($6,700)